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Mayor Ed Pawlowski

Another big victory for Columbia’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic:

An ordinance written by students in the Columbia Law School Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic that grants domestic partner benefits to employees of Allentown, Pa., was signed into law yesterday by Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

The ordinance will provide city employees who have same-sex domestic partners the same benefits as employees with spouses, including health insurance and time off when a partner is hospitalized or dies.

“Allentown must be a city of inclusion, a city where every person counts,” Pawlowski said.  “For a city to grow and thrive it has to be a progressive community, one that supports the rights of all its individuals.  I am proud that I live in a progressive city that recognizes that what makes us great is our unique diversity.”

The seven-member Allentown City Council unanimously approved the domestic partnership ordinance on Jan. 19.

“We are thrilled that the City Council and Mayor have supported and passed these domestic partner benefits,” said Larra Morris ‘11, who drafted the ordinance along with Jennifer Simcovitch ‘11, and Swathi Sukumar ’10. “Since same-sex couples cannot marry in Pennsylvania, the law is significant for the gay and lesbian members of the city’s workforce who previously could not obtain these benefits for their domestic partners.

The ordinance applies to Allentown’s approximately 1,000-employee workforce as well as its retirees.

Allentown joins more than 80 U.S. cities and counties in that have adopted laws recognizing domestic partnerships. “Because benefits are such an important part of compensation, domestic partnership ordinances like Allentown’s help ensure that gay and lesbian employees are paid on par with their non-gay co-workers,” said Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg, the clinic’s director.

In drafting the law, the clinic collaborated with the Pennsylvania Diversity Network, the largest LGBT organization in Pennsylvania, which had been advocating for domestic partnership benefits in Allentown for more than 15 years. The students also worked with City Council President Mike D’Amore, who introduced the legislation, and the city human resources department.

4 comments

  1. RT @GenderSexLaw: Rule Drafted by Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic Students Becomes Law in Allentown, Pennsylvania http://wp.me/ploC4-RO

  2. For me, taking ownership of my sexuality and expressing it mean feeling good in my own skin. it’s confidence. Some days I feel it, some days I don’t.

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